Experiencing virtual reality
The line between the digital world and the physical world is becoming increasingly blurred as we enter an era of virtual reality (VR). VR can be defined as a “computer technology that uses virtual reality headsets…to generate realistic images, sounds and other sensations that simulate a user’s physical presence in a virtual or imaginary environment.” In other words, VR uses computers to create a virtual environment that feels as close to reality as possible.
VR will have a significant impact on social media. Instead of communicating through texts, pictures and videos, VR technology will allow two or more people to feel as though they are in the same room together even though each person is in the comfort of their own home, using their own VR system. Companies are already introducing social VR apps that allow users to communicate with each other through the use of avatars in a 3D environment.
Possible uses of VR by companies using social media
Companies that use social media to promote their goods and services will have a completely new way of connecting their business with their customers in an age of VR. Rather than traditional marketing methods such as billboards and other print media, VR will allow customers to both physically and emotionally experience what the company has to offer. For example:
- VR can be used to showcase products in 3D, giving the user an opportunity to manipulate the product and fully appreciate its characteristics (e.g., shape and size of product).
- VR can be used to offer prospective buyers with a realistic 3D preview of the company’s services as a way to entice customers to purchase those services.
- VR can be used to offer clients with 3D personalized troubleshooting as a way to maintain a positive relationship even when customer service issues arise.
Possible legal implications of using VR
Companies that are thinking about expanding into the VR space should be aware of the legal issues that may arise from using VR.
Advertising laws: Traditional advertising laws and regulations may need to be modified as commercial marketing strategies begin to employ VR. New challenges may arise. For example, how does one assess whether a consumer was misled by an advertisement for services, if the basis for the complaint is that the actual services were not representative of what the consumer subjectively experienced in VR? As our laws struggle to catch up to advancements in technology, companies must always be mindful of how existing and future laws may impact their activities.
Privacy laws: As VR expands, it has the ability to collect massive amounts of data. This data can include sensitive personal information about an individual, such as their identity, preferences, and habits. Companies that wish to use VR must consider how to address these privacy issues and must ensure that any data collected from VR systems is treated in accordance with applicable privacy legislation.
Entering the world of VR
Companies that are seeking to incorporate VR into their marketing and business strategies should be fully prepared:
- Policies: Written policies are important to make employees aware of the issues surrounding the use of VR and to educate them on how to ensure that privacy rights are respected.
- Social media strategy: Companies should have a social media strategy that is communicated to all employees. Such strategies should consider how existing and new laws will impact how the company attracts business in an age of VR.